Rapid rise of Clean Air Zones in attempt to lower urban air pollution

John Watkins, TrakM8 Chairman

One of the key themes of 2018 was the rapid rise of Clean Air Zones (CAZs), as the UK government seeks to bring urban air pollution down to legally permissible levels.

Recent research has estimated that air pollution in the UK kills up to 40,000 every year – and costs the economy up to £20 billion per annum. Another study, carried out by the University of Oxford and University of Bath calculated that, if every new car sold in 2019 was an electric vehicle (EV), it would save us more than £325m in health costs in the first year alone.

Innovative new technologies such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS), and freight-sharing platforms can help organisations to minimise the impact of road charging. MaaS reduces the number of vehicles on our roads by making more effective use of existing resources, such as ride-sharing instead of solo occupancy, better use of public transport infrastructure, and even encouraging more cycling. Apps that combine all of these travel modes, with one easy billing platform, can make a huge difference, as evidenced by Navigogo, Scotland’s first MaaS pilot project.

For companies engaged in urban delivery, freight- sharing offers truly exciting possibilities. Digital platforms powered by optimisation algorithms can enable companies to share assets – this will become even more attractive when factoring road charging into shipping costs.

Electric and hybrid car sales grew by more than 20 per cent in the UK last year, compared to 2017. While low-emission vehicles still make up just 2.5 per cent of total car sales, this is promising growth. Along with an explosion in the number of electric cars and LCVs available, there are a growing number of tools that can help fleets to optimise EVs, to gain the best possible environmental and financial benefits.

However, the two biggest pressures on fleet managers are still reducing costs and improving safety. 2018 saw the first major fleets adopting telematics cameras, which address both these issues – expect to see many more organisations following suit over the next 12 months.